His mother was the daughter of Numitor, king of Alba Longa. Before he and his brother's conception, Numitor's brother Amulius seizes power, kills Numitor's male heirs and forces Rhea Silvia to become a Vestal Virgin, sworn to chastity. Rhea Silvia conceives the twins by the god Mars. Once the twins were born, Amulius had them abandoned to die in the river Tiber. They were saved by a series of miraculous interventions: the river carried them to safety, a she-wolf (in Latin, lupa) found and suckled them, and a woodpecker fed them. A shepherd and his wife found them and fostered them to manhood, as shepherds. The twins, unaware of their true origins, proved to be natural leaders. Each brother acquired many followers. When they discovered the truth of their birth, they killed Amulius and restored Numitor to his throne. Rather than wait to inherit Alba Longa, they choose to found a new city.
Remus wanted to found the city on the Aventine Hill while Romulus wanted to found the city on the Palatine Hill. They agreed to determine the site through augury but when each claimed the results in his own favor, they quarreled and Remus was killed. Romulus founded the city, naming it Rome, after himself, and created its first legions and senate.